A while back, I was talking to my friend Kathy and she mentioned that she wanted to watch Murder, She Wrote all the way through from the beginning. I was in for that, and doubly in when she suggested that we make a game out of it. She’d found a drinking game for the show, and suggested that we modify it into bingo cards (to avoid the alcohol poisoning that would surely occur if we followed the list on the original game). Not one to sit around, she did that, and we made a Hangouts date with a few friends to watch the first episode. It was such a success that Kathy made a website for it, and it’s been a regular once a month event for us ever since. This Sunday, we’ll be finishing Season 1 and starting on Season 2.
I love Murder, She Wrote. It’s campy and hilarious, fun to watch on nostalgia merits or to mock the whole of the 1980’s. But it’s also groundbreaking television, and worth watching in its own rights. No one is ever going to claim that the mysteries were original or challenging, but the character of Jessica Fletcher certainly is. If it’s possible that there’s anyone alive who doesn’t know the premise of the show, here it is: a late middle-aged widow living in rural Maine write best-selling murder mysteries, and keeps running into real life mysteries in her small town and elsewhere. She, of course, helps the (absurdly open-handed and cooperative) police solve them. What’s unusual about this show is that Jessica Fletcher is single, has no children, and there is no love interest for her for the entire run of the series. The very first episode dallies with a romance for her, but very firmly shuts the door on it. She is a middle aged professional woman, portrayed as gracious but private, intellectually limber, and competent. The mysteries, she dispatches without fuss. The more trying challenges for her come from business relations – insulting radio hosts on book tours, or movie producers who completely rewrite her stories. She navigates these difficulties with grace and toughness. Yes, she’s officious. Yep, she’s a busybody. That’s what detectives are. It only seems overblown sometimes because it’s not what you expect from the woman who looks like a retired schoolteacher. Put Peter Graves in the exact same role with the exact same dialogue and I bet you a fin nothing about it would seem pushy. Furthermore, every single episode of Murder, She Wrote passes the Bechdel test. It’s been 20 years since the show was on the air, but that’s still not being achieved in most tv shows now. It’s impressive.
A photo posted by Kateri Morton (@katerimorton) on
So I’ve been delighted, although not really surprised, at the number of people who get excited when they hear about Murder She Drank. The show has a tremendous following, and people of all ages and backgrounds love it. Every month, we have more and more people participating on Twitter and Instagram, with the hashtag #murdershedrank.
If you want to join in, our next event will be on Sunday, August 23 at 8 pm Central/6 pm Pacific. We typically watch two episodes in an evening, and Kathy posts the titles on the website ahead of time. Watch along with us, and if you’re tweeting or posting to Instagram, use the #murdershedrank hashtag. I keep a column open in Tweetdeck so I can keep an eye on the hilarity as it develops.
I’ve got my Sharpie picked out, my screenshot fingers at the ready, and a bottle of wine in the fridge. Maybe this week one of us will actually get bingo! (So far, that’s never happened, but it doesn’t stop us.)
(This is my 21st post for the Blaugust initiative.)